Friday, July 13, 2012

Have the Gifts Ceased?

After reading Enns' section on "Gifts of the Holy Spirit" (ch. 21), do you agree or disagree with his conclusion that select spiritual gifts ceased after the time of the Apostles and are no longer in use today? Provide the needed scripture to substantiate your position.
            In regards to this question the best answer that I can give is yes and no. From what I can tell there are some gifts he claims have ended because the apostolic era has ended. (Enns 2008, 282-3) There are many gifts that Enns believes have ceased, he is what is referred to as a cessationist. One of the gifts that I may agree with him on is the gift of miracles when you garner an understanding of what is meant by miracles (i.e. raising the dead, instant transportation from one place to another, etc). He does make the distinction between the gift of miracles and the act of a miracle. (Enns 2008, 283) I also agree that the gift of apostle has closed, with the choosing of the twelve and Paul.
            Outside of that I have a hard time seeing that all of the other gifts have ceased. The biggest argument used by cessationist is “when the perfect comes” (1 Cor 13:10) referring to the completion of the NT. However how are me to know that was what Paul was referring to? Because as we look closer at the surrounding context in verse 12 Paul explains that things are seen dimly then face to face, but then will know fully. How are we to assume that this is a reference to the completion of the NT? In regards to the gift of tongues Enns says they, “were used as a sign to unbelieving Jews and in this sense were used in evangelism (1 Cor. 14:21-22)” (Enns 2008, 285) But how does he account for Acts 10:44-48 when the Spirit falls on Cornelius and those with him and they speak in tongues? Enns attempts to argue that the tongues in Acts are no different than the ones in 1 Cor. (Enns 2008, 284). However Hawthorne would disagree, he believes that “it is speech directed basically toward God (1 Cor. 14:2, 14-15, 28); one may assume, therefore, that what is interpreted is not speech directed toward others, but the “mysteries” spoken to God. As a gift for private prayer, Paul held it in the highest regard (1 Cor. 14:2, 4, 5, 15, 17-18). Whether Paul also understood it to be an actual earthly language is moot, but the overall evidence suggest not.” (Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin 1993, 346)
            As I stated in the beginning I do and do not agree with Enns on the fact some of the gifts have ceased at the closing of the apostolic era, while others are not so easily dismissed in our current culture.
Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.
Hawthorne, Gerald F., and Daniel G. Ried, eds. Ralph P. Martin. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1993.

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